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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Three Women Found in Ohio; Interview with Kaite Beers; Escape from Captivity; Three Women Bound in Captivity; Hero Neighbor Speaks Out

Aired May 8, 2013 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: She acknowledges there was a troubled family life in the past and tells the Cleveland plain dealer she wants to reconnect to atone for that difficulty and the role it played in Michele's disappearance. So, earlier this morning Michelle's mom, Barbara Knight spoke with NBC. She was talking about their strained relationship. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA KNIGHT, MOTHER OF MICHELE KNIGHT: I know she's probably angry at the world, because she thought she would never be found. Thank God somebody did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can you tell us about the circumstances of her disappearance? I know she was 20 or 21, and some people thought maybe she had run away.

KNIGHT: Well, the way I understood it, by certain people, they told me that maybe she didn't want nothing to do with me. So -- but, still, in my heart, I thought, no. Because I know my Michelle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: You know, actually when I was speaking to her son last night, Freddie, who had an opportunity to go visit Michele at the hospital, he said she's not welcome, that they don't want to see her anymore, that at the end of the day, they suffered so much when they were under her care, that they really don't welcome her back. Another thing that was really interesting that they talked about, we heard the mother say, that she actually put up flyers all over the neighborhood looking for her daughter, and the son, Freddie, also refutes that. He said she did go out for a week one of her friends, Barbara, they did canvass the neighborhood, Barbara confirms that, but they never put up flyers, and at the end of the day, Freddie says they really blame her for the situation that Michele found herself in, because one of the reasons that she left her home was because of the relationship that the mother had with the boyfriend and how they feel that he is responsible for the state taking her son away, so really interesting. We tried to reach out to the mother, she didn't want to talk to us. He refutes most of her story.

And ahead on STARTING POINT, the latest on the investigation. What will happen to the three brothers? what about the three rescued women from captivity? What will their life be like now? We'll get insight from Katie Beers. She was kidnapped at the age of nine, held in a dungeon for more than 17 days. We're going to talk to her. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. The director of Massachusetts funeral parlor that took the body of Tamerlan Tsavraev says his burial dilemma will soon resolved, but he doesn't say how. So far, no cemetery in Massachusetts has offered to accept Tsarnaev's body for burial. His uncle is asking the government to intervene to help him find a final resting place.

In a special honor for Boston bombing victim Ron Broussard (ph) he got to throw the first pitch at Fenway Park yesterday before the game between the Sox and the Minnesota Twins.

House Republicans say they have new evidence of a cover-up in the deadly attack in Benghazi which they will reveal in a hearing later this morning. They say three whistle-blowers plan to discuss what they believe were security failures at the compound during the attack. Democrats say the revelations will be one sided. They say they have not been allowed to talk to one of the witnesses.

The United States and Russia pushing for a diplomatic solution to Syria's bloody civil war. U.S. Secretary Of State John Kerry speaking in Moscow said both he and Russia's foreign minister want to jump start talks between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and opposition leaders about forming a transitional government. The official U.S. position is that Assad will no-no role in a government because of crimes against his own people.

So, you may not have those loops on your money after all thanks to a new look for Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's signature. Recent documents show Lew's signature has changed from the loopy set of unrecognizable scribbling on the right be somewhat more legible on the left. It seems probable that he made those changes before his signature is printed on U.S. currency, also because President Obama has teased him mercilessly for his handwriting.

The worm is looking for a solid from his BFF, Kim Jong-un. Former NBA star Dennis Rodman calling on the North Korean leader to release U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae. No joke. Bae has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for, what the North calls, hostile acts. Rodman visited North Korea in February and calls Kim, quote, "a friend for life," put out a tweet saying, "I'm calling on the supreme leader of North Korea, or as I call him, Kim, to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose." That is a tweet that actually happened from Dennis Rodman.

Let's go back to Zoraida in Cleveland for more on the unbelievable story there. Hey, Z.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning, John. One burning question in this community this morning. What is inside this house of horrors on Seymour Avenue? It is a house where three women made a dramatic escape from captivity after being held a decade. FBI agents have been going through every corner of the house, since Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michele Knight managed to break out on Monday. But they are not shedding light yet on what those women might have endured inside of that house.

Later, the kidnapping suspects, Pedro, Onil, will by questioned by federal agents for the first time, Ariel as well. For the first time since their arrest, the brothers could be formally charged, we understand, by the end of the day. So right now, there brand new information from Cleveland police on the investigation into the kidnapping of these three women. Martin Savidge live outside the county justice center where the Castro brothers are being held. What is the new information, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, authorities have put out basically a statement. Updating the investigation of where things stand as of 8:00 this morning, and no real surprise on some of it, they will secure the site, 2207 on Seymour, that's the house, but they also say they are continuing to investigate and that they expect the charges will be brought later today.

They know that they don't have to do that until later this evening, they anticipate that the county prosecutor here will hear the evidence by that time and then reveal what the charges will be, the city says there will be a news conference at that particular time.

Then, they get to an issue that's been sort of bubbling at the surface today and you and I have talked about this, and that is these reports coming from the neighborhood in and around where the house is located. People who say they saw suspicious activity, they describe really graphic stuff and that they notified authorities, and the authorities came and did not appear to take those reports seriously. Cleveland police reiterating that those calls are false. Those reports are false.

They say neighbors never did call. There was no records of those calls coming into the police communications center and the only time they did respond at that address, once in 2000, once in 2004, but not based on calls coming from the neighbors, they reiterate, that is false. So back and forth on that but clearly a very sensitive issue with the city, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. We totally understand, and earlier when I was speaking to the cousin of Ariel Castro, she says everybody is jumping to a lot of conclusions and making a lot of statements, trying to figure out what is true and false is a daunting task at this stage of the game. Martin Savidge reporting live for us. Thank you for the update.

This week, we have heard from several women who have overcome really similar ordeals and lived to tell about it. Katie Beers disappeared in 1993 when she was just nine years old. She was held captive for 17 days in a tiny underground bunker in Long Island. That dungeon was built especially for her imprisonment by a family friend, John Esposito, who is currently serving a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Beers writes about the ordeal in a memoir called "Buried Memories." She joins us from Washington. Thank you for joining us. What was the first reaction when you learned about these women being found alive? KATIE BEERS, SURVIVOR OF 1993 KIDNAPPING ORDEAL: I was ecstatic when I heard the news of the three women being found alive, being rescued and being reunited with their families. It just brings joy to me. I try not to think about my childhood when I think about these cases. I'm just happy about it.

SAMBOLIN: Katie, your case, your captivity lasted 17 days. For these women, it's been a decade. Traumatic ordeal nonetheless. What kind of challenges do you think, from your perspective, these women will now face?

BEERS: I think it will be difficult for these three women to assimilate back into a normal, every day life. There have been so many changes in the past ten years. I really think we need to wait to see what actually happened in the captivity before we can even really speculate on these women's recovery, and trying to get back into a routine. But I definitely think that a support system and counseling are key for these three women to recover from this trauma.

SAMBOLIN: I know that we have to wait for the details. We've heard some previews, that they will be really graphic and horrific details. But there's one thing that we really want to understand about captivity, what is it that makes you feel like you can't escape or you can't even call for help? Can you explain that to us?

BEERS: Most certainly. In my particular case, I was in a sound- proofed room, there was literally no screaming for help for me. These women, from the stories that I have read, there are so many horrific details that like you said are going to come to light, I just really hope that the news reports that have been coming out are false, and that it wasn't as horrific as the media outlets are making it seem, but it's just -- it's difficult, depending upon how much of a psychological hold that their captors had on them would very much depend on how much they tried to break free.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, we found out that one of the girls, Michele, actually had some developmental disabilities as well, which perhaps could have made her a target. So you had known John Esposito, the man who abducted you, for years. He was a family friend. Do you think in the end these three girls may have known their captors in some way? There is some connection with the DeJesus little girl.

BEERS: I read there is some connection between Gina, and I don't know if there would be, maybe he was a bus driver to the other two. Or something along those lines. It's really difficult to say.

SAMBOLIN: So what advice would you have for these women in the months and years to come and also for their families?

BEERS: My advice would be to seek counseling as soon as the women are ready to. Both individual counseling and family counseling. It will take a lot for all of the families, everybody involved, to recover from this trauma. Also in my personal experience, my foster parents did the best thing for me, and kept me out of the public eye. They didn't let me read the news reports written about me. I never watched the news when I was on it. When my case was on it. So that was one of the best things for me. Was not knowing what was going on in the world around me and my case.

SAMBOLIN: That's probably really great advice as we try to figure out the details of what happened to these women, respecting the privacy you so desperately need. Elizabeth Smart spoke to Wolf Blitzer yesterday, and she offered some advice of her own to the girls. Let's listen to that.

Oh, we don't have it. Can you let me read it then? I'd like to read it if you could scroll it back down for me. Here, I have it.

"First of all, I want them to know that nothing that has happened to them can ever diminish their value and it should never hold them back from doing what they want to do. They should still follow their dreams, follow the life they wanted to have. They should be able to have that. I also want them to know that they don't need ever to feel pressured into saying anything. Take as much time as you need. If they decide never to share their story, that would be OK too."

Are those similar words that you would -- that you would offer up?

BEERS: Most certainly. I'm -- I definitely feel that if -- if and when the women are ready to come forward and speak publicly about their ordeal they will. And if it's not something that is psychologically going to be beneficial for them, then they won't. I definitely -- Elizabeth Smart is a very wise woman.

SAMBOLIN: Yes all right. Katie Beers, you are as well, and we appreciate your time this morning.

BEERS: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: And your insight.

And this just in: the Cleveland police chief released new information about what exactly was going on in that house behind me. Chief Michael McGrath says that the women were bound while they were in captivity in the home. There were chains and ropes that were found inside the home as well. He says investigators are interviewing the women yesterday -- or interviewed them yesterday. They will continue to do that today.

So we should be getting a little bit more information and as soon as we have it we're are going to pass it on to you.

You know John. They said that as we start to hear more of these details that they are going to be shocking to us.

BERMAN: They certainly are. Every new thing we learn is more shocking.

SAMBOLIN: And ahead on STARTING POINT -- yes. All right.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, does the neighbor who helped Amanda Berry escape the house feel like a hero?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLES RAMSEY, HELPED FOUR MISSING WOMAN: I'm a Christian and an American and I'm just like you who bleed the same blood, put our pants on the same way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: What he says should be done with the reward money. That's next.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: If not for the actions of Charles Ramsey, the three women might have never escaped from that house in Cleveland. Here's more of Anderson Cooper's exclusive interview with Ramsey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, AC360: So you call 911.

RAMSEY: I sure did.

COOPER: How soon did police get here?

RAMSEY: You know what they got there so fast, because I say a moron. Because I say hey, Amanda Berry is right in front of me right now. What she got on? White tank top, blue sweatpants, nice tennis shoes, nice pony tail, what else? Oh, right. She's panicking, idiot. Put yourself in her shoes, like I said Amanda Berry, that don't ring no damn bells you being a cop and all.

COOPER: When you first saw her and she said the name, Amanda Berry did it register?

(CROSSTALK)

RAMSEY: I didn't know, (inaudible), because this is Cleveland. They haven't found that girl.

COOPER: Right.

RAMSEY: And I guess that little white girl, we figure that girl met her demise.

COOPER: Right.

RAMSEY: So Berry didn't register with me until I was on the phone and I was like, wait a minute I thought this girl was dead.

COOPER: What does it -- what does it feel like to have been living next to this for a year?

RAMSEY: See, that's why now I'm having trouble sleeping. See up until yesterday, the only thing that kept me from losing sleep was the lack of money. You know what I'm saying? So now that that's going on and I could have done this last year and not this hero stuff, do the right thing.

COOPER: Do you feel like a hero? A lot of people out here are saying --

(CROSSTALK)

RAMSEY: No, no, no, no, no, bro. I'm a Christian and an American and I'm just like you. We bleed the same blood, put our pants on the same way. It's just that -- you got to put that being a coward and I don't want to get in nobody's business. You got to put that away for a minute.

COOPER: Because you know how it is and a lot of people have turned the other away.

RAMSEY: That's all it's about -- it's about the homeless on this planet.

COOPER: Has the FBI said anything about a reward or anything because there was a reward for finding her and stuff?

RAMSEY: I tell you what you do. Give it to them. Because if folks have been following this case, since last night, they've been following me since last night, you know I got a job anyway. Just went and picked it up -- pay checks. What does that say?

COOPER: I don't have my glasses. I'm blind without glasses.

RAMSEY: 2203 Seymour. Where those girls living? Right next door to this pay check - so take that reward and give it to them. That little girl came out of house, and she was crying. And I was looking at her, I was like, your mama is trying to help you, girl. Shut up and she's like I want my daddy. And I said who is your daddy? And she said Ariel.

COOPER: She said that.

RAMSEY: Yes and I said how is that possible? Because you wouldn't -- if you got kidnapped, he was having sex with you, oh, Jesus Christ. That little girl is his? Now he wanted to hurt you?

COOPER: You felt that.

RAMSEY: Bro, this would be a different interview. I told you that if we had known that, man I would be facing triple life.

COOPER: Wow. I'm glad it turned out this way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: You know how Charles Ramsey said give the girls the money, right? Well we have a T-shirt here that is actually being sold to raise money for the victims. It's Hodges Cleveland Restaurant and apparently that's where Charles Ramsey works. There it is, there is the t-shirt. It is a picture of him on the front of the t-shirt, and there is all of the information if you want to go online and be able to raise some money for the victims of this horrific crime. 100 percent of the proceeds are going to go to the fund for the three victims. All you have to go is to that site on the Facebook page and you too will be able to own that T-shirt and to contribute to that fund.

So Charles Ramsey is now getting what's maybe the ultimate Internet accolade. His interviews have been auto tuned. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAMSEY: I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran to a black man's home. I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran to a black man's home. Something was wrong. (inaudible) Either she is homeless or she's got problems --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: He may have done a little something for race relations as well.

A special edition of STARTING POINT is back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT.

How about we leave you with something really special? Amanda Berry is finally getting the chance to reconnect by phone with her grandmother and other family members in Tennessee. Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

AMANDA BERRY, KIDNAP VICTIM: Hello.

FERN GENTRY, AMANDA BERRY'S GRANDMOTHER: Amanda?

BERRY: Yes, grandma.

GENTRY: Yes, how are you?

BERRY: I'm fine.

GENTRY: I'm glad to have you back.

BERRY: Yes, I'm glad to be back.

GENTRY: I thought you were gone.

BERRY: No, I'm here.

GENTRY: We're happy down here for you.

BERRY: Thank you so much. Nice to be back; I missed you guys so much. GENTRY: The little girl is your baby?

BERRY: Yes, she's my daughter. Born on Christmas.

GENTRY: I thought about you all this time. I never forgot you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Never giving up hope. You're hearing it there.

SAMBOLIN: You know John, earlier.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

SAMBOLIN: Earlier, Martin -- Martin Savidge had said that it feels like we're eves dropping on a conversation and such an incredible moment to be part of.

BERMAN: It's so true and obviously as I was just saying you know the grandmother, never giving up hope for a granddaughter. We heard Jaycee Dugard talk about how important it is to hold on to hope there. That is one of the -- the great lessons that has come from this, this miracle and this tragedy all tied up into one thing.

That is all for this special edition of STARTING POINT.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman live in New York.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin, live in Cleveland. Stay with CNN for continuing live coverage of the three rescued women.

CNN NEWSROOM with Carol Costello begins right now.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", "Escape from Captivity".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the tip of the iceberg. This investigation will take a very long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Three women: Amanda Berry, Gina deJesus, and Michelle Knight, enduring a decade of terror. This morning their families stunned and shocked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENTRY: Amanda.

BERRY: Yes, grandma.